Posted on: Friday, 11 February 2005, 00:00 CSTI went to the website for the Global Consciousness Project and skimmed over their procedures and data. Interestingly enough it does look like some pretty serious and thorough research going on here: the procedure for each step - from numerical generation to graphing - is documented at length. The data is made freely available for anyone to study on their own. And links and abstracts regarding similar research (wait a sec: our tax dollars are funding more of this?!) can be found. Some of them DO sound pretty oddball: like The RetroPsychoKinesis Project, which among other things sponsored an attempt by martial artists to alter past events with their minds. Ummmmm wasn't that the central storyline of at least five or six episodes of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues?
Can This Black Box See Into the Future?
DEEP in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream.
At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.
But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events.
The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened - but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.
Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers.
'It's Earth-shattering stuff,' says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the 'black box' phenomenon.
'We're very early on in the process of trying to figure out what's going on here. At the moment we're stabbing in the dark.' Dr Nelson's investigations, called the Global Consciousness Project, were originally hosted by Princeton University and are centred on one of the most extraordinary experiments of all time. Its aim is to detect whether all of humanity shares a single subconscious mind that we can all tap into without realising.
And machines like the Edinburgh black box have thrown up a tantalising possibility: that scientists may have unwittingly discovered a way of predicting the future... (Click here for rest of article).
By the way, if you ever hear about how some sociologist named James D.L. Staunton did a study in 1958 on train and airplane disasters dating back to the 1920s and after sifting the data found that fully-loaded planes and trains rarely crash and that passengers who intended to travel on them skipped-off 'cuz they "felt sick" or something, thus implying that there's some kinda mass psychic ability going on here: don't believe it. That one got mentioned a few times in college and have seen it come up on the 'net over the years, but I did a Google search and couldn't find anyone in real life named "James D.L. Staunton" or even a "James Staunton" who was a sociologist studying train wrecks. You will find James D.L. Staunton on page 536 in the paperback edition of Stephen King's The Stand, however: looks like Staunton was just a plot device by King. But if I'm "getting" the technobabble right, the Global Consciousness Project does at least sound an awful lot like how the precogs in the Department of Pre-Crime worked together to detect an "incoming" future murder in Steven Spielberg's movie version of Minority Report...
Y'know, there's an idea right there: let's recruit all the Xbox modding hotshots to work on a honkin' humongously BIG network of Xboxes (hey they're way cheap as PCs) that'll crunch even more numbers and churn out results in HDTV. With that kind of power we'll be able to see EVERYTHING in the next thousand years: from the Second Coming of Christ to the First Coming of "Duke Nukem Forever"! Seriously though, coincidence or not, that is a pretty neat correlation that this project is finding.
Anyhoo, the next lil' item comes courtesy of the London Daily Telegraph:
Robotic ball that chases burglarsBold words were my emphasis, 'cuz after reading this I was laughing so hard that the Coke I was drinking literally came out of my nose! Now there's all kinds of dangerous balls that we know of (no Rollerball doesn't count 'cuz people chase the ball not vice-versa). There's that classic toy from yesteryear Happy Fun Ball:
By David Millward
A large black ball, originally designed by Swedish scientists for use on Mars, could be the latest weapon in the war against burglars.
The device, developed at the University of Uppsala, acts as a high-tech security guard capable of detecting an intruder thanks to either radar or infra-red sensors. Once alerted, it can summon help, sound an alarm or pursue the intruders, taking pictures.
It is capable of travelling at 20mph, somewhat faster than a human being. Even worse for intruders, the robot ball can still give chase over mud, snow and water.
The ball relies on an internal pendulum to control its motion which, when shifted, changes the centre of gravity and starts it rolling.
Other devices, including microphones, cameras, heat sensors and smoke detectors are mounted on its central axis.
Nils Hulth, co-founder of Rotundus, the company which is marketing the ball, said it was especially well-suited to patrolling perimeter fences.
The prototype, just under 2ft in diameter, weighs about 10lb. "It is extremely light, which is why it moves so fast," Mr Hulth said.
While the current version can only raise the alarm, it could be adapted to corner an intruder if the customer wanted, Mr Hulth added...
And who could forget that boulder that tried to squish Indiana Jones? I almost didn't want to mention it because it did miss its target and to date Deadly Amazon Idol Temple Boulder of Death(tm) can only boast a 1-1 record... but since it did wind up killing "Weird Al" Yankovic we'll make note of it:
For some reason, the very first things that popped in my head when I read this article's title were those delightful shiny flying Christmas tree ball ornaments that Angus Scrimm always sends after Reggie the Ice-Cream Man and crew during the big showdown in whatever abandoned funeral parlor they wind up in during those wonderful Phantasm movies:
But that still wasn't it. The thing that darned nearly destroyed my nasal tissue with Coke - no not that coke - was because Rotundus' ball sounds WAY too much like this (Rotundus should pitch this in commercials with the tagline "Who is Number One?"):
I wonder if Rotundus is giving Patrick McGoohan any royalties from this gimmick. They oughtta 'cuz it's Rover, that ball-thingy that relentlessly chased after you - on land or water - if you tried to escape The Village in McGoohan's old 1967 TV show The Prisoner! Of all the crazy ideas that television ever gave us, a homicidal weather balloon was the absolute last thing I expected to become an even remote actuality. Other than it being that the Rotundus ball doesn't suffocate an escapee like the Rover did (thankfully), this sounds exactly like Rover.
Ooh-boy... this could be a lot of fun. Can you imagine having one of these and then needing to call Rotundus Tech Support?
CUSTOMER: Okay, it seems to be working now. Thanks for walking me through this!"You are, Number Six."
ROTUNDUS TECH: You're perfectly welcome sir, and we do appreciate that you chose to purchase our product. If you have any more problems or questions please call this same technical support line. Do you have something to write with?
CUSTOMER: Yes, have a pen right here.
ROTUNDUS TECH: Okay sir, you are ticket number...
CUSTOMER: I AM NOT A NUMBER!!!